A man who was acquitted in the 1985 Air India terror bombing that killed 329 people was shot dead outside of Vancouver, Canada Thursday morning, a report said.
Ripudaman Singh Malik was killed while sitting in his car outside a business center in Surrey, according to The Toronto Star.
Malik, 75, and Ajaib Singh Bagri were exonerated of mass murder and conspiracy charges in 2005 after being blamed for the plane explosion near Ireland that killed 280 Canadians and a bombing at a Tokyo airport that killed two baggage handlers, the paper said.
They were arrested in 2000 for the massacre and accused of targeting India’s national airline in retaliation for the government’s deadly raid on a sacred Sikh spiritual site. Malik and Bagri were set free after key prosecution witnesses were deemed unreliable, the outlet said.
It was reportedly unclear if Malik’s “targeted” murder was related the atrocities he had been tied to.
A suspect’s car was found nearby in flames shortly after the 9:30 a.m. shooting, according to the outlet.
“The investigation is in the early stages and police are still looking for the suspect and a second vehicle that may have been used as a getaway vehicle,” the Royal Canadian Mounted Police reportedly said.
A car wash worker who heard the ambush ran outside and found Malik injured, according to The Canadian Press.
“There was three gunshots. One hit on the neck, that’s it. And I just took him out. He was alive,” the man said.
“It’s shocking,” longtime friend Asaf Gill told the paper. “He was acquitted for some reasons. Who is somebody else to take the law into their hands?”
Malik, a multi-millionaire businessman, emigrated to Canada from India in 1972 and became an influential member of British Columbia’s Sikh separatist movement, according to The National Post.
After working as a cab driver, Malik founded a credit union and private school for community members, and was remembered for his teachings of faith, his son said on Facebook.
“The media will always refer to him as someone charged with the Air India bombing. He was wrongly charged, Jaspreet Singh Malik wrote. “The media and RCMP never seemed to accept the Court’s decision and I pray today’s tragedy is not related.”
Another suspect, Inderjit Singh Reyat, was reportedly convicted and spent 30 years in prison for helping to build the bombs in the terror attack. Alleged ringleader Talwinder Singh Parmar was killed by police in 1992.